Brett Wallach said his first memories of Major League Baseball were shagging in the Dodger Stadium outfield during batting practice, as his father, then-infielder Tim Wallach, prepared to help the Dodgers win.
It may soon be Brett Wallach’s turn to help the Blue Crew himself, after he was taken in the third round by the Dodgers, 96th overall, in the Major League Draft that began Tuesday.
Brett Wallach, 20, the Southern California and Orange Empire Conference Player of the Year who led Orange Coast College to the school’s first state championship since 1980, will now have to decide whether to join the organization for which his dad now works and his older brother plays, or continue on at Long Beach State.
“I remember shagging at Dodger Stadium,” Wallach said recently of his first memories of his dad’s career, which lasted 17 seasons and included five All-Star Game appearances, three Gold Gloves as a third baseman and two Silver Slugger awards (given to the top hitter in each league at each position)
The younger Wallach, a 6-foot-2, 180-pounder who pitched and played first base for OCC as a sophomore, was selected as a right-handed pitcher.
Projected as a Friday night starter at Long Beach State, according to OCC Coach John Altobelli, Wallach was 10-1 with a 2.26 earned-run average and four saves for the 37-14 Pirates. He struck out 111 in 103 2/3 innings and earned a victory and a save in three state tournament wins in Fresno. Yet his contributions were hardly confined to the mound.
Batting cleanup, he hit .371 with three home runs and 48 runs batted it.
It’s clear, however, that his future is trying to foil hitters, not pitchers, though his pitching career is still getting off the ground.
He said he pitched in youth leagues growing up, but threw only two innings his senior year at Orange Lutheran High.
Wallach said his best fastball topped out at 87 mph in high school, but now regularly hits between 90 and 92 mph on the radar gun. He also throws a slider and has been working to develop a changeup.
“My velocity kind of came late; it’s weird,” said Wallach, who was 5-foot-4 as a high school freshman and weighed 160 pounds in his final prep campaign, during which he played shortstop.
Wallach played shortstop and first base as a freshman at Orange Coast, but was also utilized as the closer. He had 10 saves, won three of five decisions and posted a 3.36 ERA, fanning 30 in 31 2/3 innings. He also hit .288 with 19 RBIs.
He signed with Long Beach State during the fall of 2008 as a pitcher and Altobelli talked before the 2009 season about perhaps fazing Wallach out of the batting order. Instead, Wallach’s bat became one of the Pirates’ featured weapons.
Altobelli, who called Wallach the best pitcher he has had in 18 seasons at OCC, said Wallach may also have been the best clutch hitter with two outs and runners in scoring position that he has seen during his tenure at the school.
Tim Wallach played collegiately at Cal State Fullerton, where he won the Golden Spikes award as the nation’s top player and helped the Titans claim the program’s first NCAA title. He made his big league debut in 1979 and went on to collect 260 home runs, 2,085 hits and 1,125 RBIs in The Show. His lifetime batting average is .257.
Tim Wallach, who played at University High in Irvine, is now the manager of the Dodgers’ Class AAA affiliate, the Albuquerque Isotopes. He was the Dodgers hitting coach in 2004 and 2005 under then-manager Jim Tracy.
Matt Wallach, Brett’s brother who played at Cypress College and Cal State Fullerton and was not drafted, is now playing with the Great Lakes Loons, a Class A affiliate of the Dodgers.
Tim Wallach was selected in the eighth round of the 1978 draft as a Cal State Fullerton junior, but elected not to sign.
Brett Wallach was the only local player selected on the first day of the three-day draft that continues today with rounds four through 30. Rounds 31 through 50 will be held Thursday.